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Venezuela-Colombia ties remain strong despite Chávez's reported links to FARC

Newly published findings that Venezuela financed the FARC rebel group in Colombia seem unlikely to harm growing economic and diplomatic links between the two countries.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez gestures upon his arrival at Bolivar avenue to attend the May Day rally in Caracas, Venezuela, on May 1.

Fernando Llano/AP

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Hugo Chávez for years has offered the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) financial support and sanctuary inside Venezuela, motivated by the belief that Colombia, and its ally the United States, would be less of a threat if it were mired in a rebel conflict.

That's a key finding from a 240-page report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a London-based think tank, published just as the neighbors have taken substantial steps toward reconciliation, underscoring how decades of enmity lurk beneath recent moves to restore goodwill.

But most observers say even the report's most explosive assertions – including that Venezuela’s secret police wanted to use some of the rebel group's techniques against government opponents – are unlikely to stem the positive diplomatic tide.

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